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Later in the Yurt Camp

June 21, 2013

6/18/13 – Yurt Camp

I am so sad! I spent a long time writing a blog post that didn’t get saved earlier today. So I will quickly recap:

1) We left 2 days ago and drove all day from 9:20 AM to 6:40 PM to get to the yurt camp.
2) Some of us were a little anxious about this experience due to the camp’s extremely remote location, reports about the food being “unpalateable”, the lace of running water and electricity.
3) We drove for the first 5 hours
4) We drove past very few towns, the last 2 of which looked like post-apoctalypic movie settings where there were no adults, only children in the shadow of the asbestos mine.
5) Our bus driver stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and told us he was leaving us there.
6) We had to pile into 3 Soviet-Era “jeep-esque” vehicles and 1 very large truck called Wazik.
7) We drove in those vehicles for 70 kilometers, the last 35 of which were on something like a path and VERY off-road.
8) The 35 km off-road took about 3 hours.
9) We crossed the river twice in the Wazik and the water came over the floorboards it was so deep.
9) The yurt camp was still under construction when we got here.
10) I opened the door of my yurt and saw part of the carcass of a dead domesticated animal.

If this sounds like we are as far into the wild as you can probably get, you are getting the picture. We drove past a herd of yaks, some cows and sheep and goats. This land has been used by these families for hundreds of years at least. It is a lovely valley that just seems to go on without end, with mountains that are both scrubby and covered with larch trees. We have seen so many birds including many hawks and an eagle.

Today I went on a horseback ride into the Black Heart of the Taiga. It felt amazing to be riding a horse in a place very few people have ever been in the entire history of the world. And this is the homeland of the best horsemen in history here on the steppe of Asia.

While we were gone on the ride, our hosts slaughtered a 4 year old sheep for us to eat for dinner. Zhenyi’s friends helped and they took out all the organs and intestines which we ate later for dinner. It certainly was interesting.

So I thought I would make a list of the weird things I have already eaten or drunk on this trip. Here they are in no certain order:

1) Fermented yak’s milk (distilled)
2) Fermented cow’s milk (not distilled and with chunks of something cheese-y)
3) Sheep’s blood sausage
4) Sheep’s liver
5) Other odd “bologna” sausage (I don’t know what it came from.)
6) Sheep’s rib (right off the bone less than 2 hours after it was killed)
7) Tuvan kasha
8) Salty tea (yuck!) So far this is the grossest thing I have had.

We have actually all enjoyed our time in the yurt camp and it just got so much better today because they finished the banya and we all got to go sweat, bathe and rinse off. It was just the best experience! We had been here 2 days, plus the long travel day, so we were all ready to get clean! This banya is not a real Russian one so I hope that I will be able to get that experience later, maybe when we are at Baikal. Nonetheless, this banya was wonderful and welcomed by all!


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  1. Tim permalink

    Have I mentioned how envious I am?

    Well not about the blood sausage of liver, but the animals and the yaks and yurts and some of the food!

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